Christians put faith on poll agenda

Sean Nicholls and Leesha McKenny
Christian leaders will question the Premier, Kristina Keneally, and the state Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, on a range of social issues during a special leaders' forum at State Parliament on Tuesday. The invitation-only event, organised by the Australian Christian Lobby, is inspired by a similar exercise before last year's federal election involving the then prime minister, Kevin Rudd, and the federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.

Liberal MP Bernie Finn wants death penalty for drug lords
The death penalty must be brought back as the ultimate punishment for drug lords, government MP Bernie Finn says.  The outspoken western suburbs MP said drug runner and gangster Carl Williams was a merchant of death who should have been executed rather than left to die in prison.  Opponents of the death penalty said the reintroduction of capital punishment would make Australia a pariah in the eyes of the world.  But Mr Finn said the only way to keep children safe from the scourge of drugs was to bring back capital punishment.

Donor parent access law examined

Mark Metherell
Children born as a result of artificial reproduction procedures should have access to the identity of the donor parent by means of a national register, a Senate committee has recommended.  The committee heard estimates that there are as many as 60,000 children who have been born through ''donor conception'' practices in Australia, most of whom have been barred access to their donor parent's identity by anonymity provisions.  The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee recommended against retrospective access to registers being granted where donors had been promised anonymity.

Muslim Brotherhood will likely win next poll
In 1985 as a teenager in Kenya, I was an adamant member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Seventeen years later, in 2002, I took part in a political campaign to win votes for the conservative party in The Netherlands. Those two experiences gave me some insights that I think are relevant to the crisis in Egypt.  They lead me to believe it is highly likely but not inevitable that the Muslim Brotherhood will win the elections to be held in Egypt in September.  As a participant in an election, I learned a few basic lessons.

Israel's nightmare scenario - a radically Islamist Egypt
A wholesale security rethink is on the horizon for the Jewish state.  The Israeli perspective of the events in Egypt is quite different from those found in Western countries. The US and Europe are more likely to support the removal of a government that denies its citizens basic freedoms, while Israel's main concern is that the unrest will have regional security implications. If Hosni Mubarak's regime collapses, it could endanger the peace agreements Israel has with Jordan and Egypt, Israel's main strategic assets after Washington. The new reality on its southern border may also require military changes and place an extra burden on the Israeli economy.  Israel's leadership and security branches have been struggling to decode the US's Middle East policies. The surprise of Barack Obama's speech in Cairo in 2009 has been replaced with amazement at just how quickly the US has abandoned its old ally. Like Jimmy Carter when the Iranian shah's regime collapsed in 1979, Obama is wavering between supporting a dedicated partner and the basic American inclination to back a popular freedom struggle. Like Carter, a Democrat, Obama chose the second option.

Hefty bill for Muslim women's privacy at public swimming pool
Ratepayers could be stung up to $45,000 to install curtains at a public pool so Muslim women can have privacy during a female-only exercise classes.  The City of Monash has won an exemption from equal opportunity laws to run the sessions outside normal opening hours.

Julie Bishop ignites Liberal tensions
Tony Abbott has moved to quell anger within Liberal ranks about his deputy, Julie Bishop, but at least three frontbenchers are prepared to stand for her job after more damaging leaks from shadow cabinet.  The Opposition Leader has reassured Ms Bishop that he strongly supports her and has warned frontbenchers to stop destabilising her and agitating for her removal after more than three years as deputy leader.  Liberal frontbenchers continue to be displeased with Ms Bishop's performance and are furious about reports of a bitter split with Mr Abbott over the Coalition's proposal to cut $448 million in aid to Indonesian schools to fund Queensland flood recovery work.

Egypt President Hosni Mubarak defies protesters as he refuses to step down
Egypt President Hosni Mubarak says he has passed on his authority to his vice-president Omar Suleiman, but he has failed to resign immediately as president.  In a live TV address, Mubarak said a political transition ending his 30-year-reign would last until September.